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Radon testing contest winners announced

Posted 6/22/2011

Gardnerville and Reno homeowners win radon system installation credits

Two area residents will receive a $1,500 credit towards the installation of radon mitigation systems in their homes after winning a contest sponsored by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Radon Education Program.

Dean Doyle of Gardnerville and Robert White of Reno won the contest after using a free radon test kit provided by Extension and finding that their homes had radon levels higher than that recommended by the EPA. The EPA recommends mitigating homes that have radon levels of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/l) or greater, Susan Howe, program director of the Nevada Radon Education Program, said.

Doyle and his wife, Roberta, have lived in their house almost 25 years. He first tested his home in January 2009 after attending the radon program at Sheridan Acres Fire Department that January. The radon level was 16.6 pCi/l. They tested again and it was 12.6 pCi/l. After hearing about the contest, they tested their house again, and it was 11 pCi/l.

"We are very excited about winning this prize," Doyle said. "After testing for radon in our home and finding very high levels again, mitigation became a top priority."

Doyle’s system will be installed on May 27. His mitigation will be a sub-slab depressurization system, and the $1,500 credit will cover the entire cost of the system.

Robert White and his wife, Sarah, have lived in their Reno home about 15 years. They first heard about radon about five years ago, but only recently tested their home for radon after receiving an informational door tag and coupon for a free test kit at their front door in February of this year. Their house tested at an alarming 30 pCi/l. A second test in March confirmed they had a radon problem. It was 43 pCi/l.

"I had planned to fix the radon problem in our house this year, so it was a pleasant surprise when we won the contest," said White. "I felt it was a definite necessity to get it fixed."

White’s system will be installed June 2 and 3, as the system to fix his home is more involved. His house foundation is a combination crawl space, slab and daylight basement, and will require a combination sub-slab and sub-membrane depressurization system. The $1,500 credit was a significant reduction toward the total cost of the installation.

The radon systems will be installed by certified mitigator Derrick Carpenter of Dependable Home Solutions of Gardnerville, who volunteered his services toward the $1,500 credits for the contest. Professional Discount Supply of Colorado Springs, Colo., donated the fans and the Nevada Radon Education Program purchased the rest of the supplies needed for the two systems.

Howe said the contest was part of an effort to encourage more homeowners to test their homes for radon, as well as increase awareness towards the importance of fixing those homes that test above the EPA Action Level of 4 pCi/l.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It has no smell or taste and you can’t see it, but this gas can accumulate to harmful levels when trapped indoors.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers and kills more people than secondhand smoke, drunken driving, falls in the home, drowning or home fires. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates 21,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer caused by indoor radon exposure.

"If you haven’t tested your home for radon and fixed a radon problem, you could be exposing your family to a known carcinogen that can cause lung cancer over time," Howe said.

Radon can be a problem in any type of home, old or new, tightly sealed or drafty, as well as any type of foundation such as a basement, crawl space or slab. Because radon is a gas, any building with contact to the soil (this includes your home, school, office building, etc.) is at risk.

"Not everyone exposed to radon will develop lung cancer, but the higher the level of radon and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk," Howe said. "Compared to other cancer health risks, there is an easy test for it and it can easily be fixed."

Short-term test kits are offered at no cost in Douglas County and will be free in Washoe County until June 30. Test kits are available at most Cooperative Extension offices for $5. Test kits are also available at Nevada Tahoe Conservation District in Douglas County. For a complete list of locations offering test kits, visit the radon program website, www.RadonNV.com, or call the Radon Hot Line at 1-888-RADON10 (1-888-723-6610).

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension does not endorse any products, companies or services used in conjunction with this contest.

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